Well thought-out navigation can make the difference between a visitor spending 30 seconds or one hour on your website. If your navigation is too complex or poorly designed, visitors will be put off quickly and may decide to stop exploring your site.
In other words, properly planned navigation is vital to ensure a good user experience. This blog outlines some of the key reasons for keeping navigation in mind when designing a website.
What is website navigation?
Website navigation refers to the way a visitor accesses different sections of your website. This often includes features such as links and menus embedded in your website design.
What different types of navigation are there?
There are a few different website navigation options. One is having a header at the top of the website, either fixed (staying on your screen as you scroll) or stationary (staying at the top of the page as you scroll and eventually disappearing). As you can see below, the Manchester United website’s homepage uses a header with various titles. This allows visitors to easily navigate to sections of the website that interest them.
Alternatively, you could opt for a drop-down menu. This is often signified by three horizontal lines or simply the word “menu”. When visitors click on this they are given various options for different areas of the website. This can be very effective if you want a more clean and simple look to your webpage.
A menu option can also be better for mobile users. Clothing retailers often use this approach to divide their website into women’s and men’s sections, as in this example on the Pull & Bear website.
Some websites combine multiple navigation options. See Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s homepage below, where the top drop-down opens up into a translucent extra menu without taking you off the homepage.
So why is navigation important?
Well-designed navigation can be very effective in gaining more interest in your website. There are a variety of reasons for this:
Increased duration of visit. Navigation that’s easy to understand and use can increase the amount of time visitors spend on your website. If a visitor can easily access the different areas of your site they’re looking for, there’s a higher chance of them staying longer.
Increased chance of sales. More time spent on your website means visitors are exposed to your products or services for a longer period. Navigation can be particularly important in increasing sales, especially if your website is used to sell products.
Improved user experience. Easy-to-use navigation makes using your website a more enjoyable experience. This in turn encourages visitors to spend longer on your site and revisit it in future.
Good design. Navigation and website design go hand in hand. The style of navigation you choose can alter how your website is viewed by visitors. Therefore, ensuring that your choice of navigation fits in well with the rest of your website design is extremely important.
The businesses running the best websites will have thought through various factors before deciding on the type of navigation that works best for them. Some questions to ask yourself are:
- What kind of products or services are you selling? What’s the best way to organise them?
- Can you group your products/services/content under umbrella themes or categories?
- How many categories do you need?
- If there are many categories would a drop-down menu be easier?
- Which type of navigation would fit in best with your website design?
- Who is your target audience?
- Does your navigation style work on mobile devices?
If you consider these questions before creating your website you’ll be on track to create the best navigation for your products, services, or content. In general, you should always try to have the fewest number of categories possible, as too many can make your site look cluttered and confusing to navigate.
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With different types of navigation, there are so many options for your new website, and with Website Builder, you can rest assured that your site will be fully optimised for desktops, tablets and mobile devices, regardless of the navigation style you choose. Start your free trial today.